For kids who deal with trauma, come from hard places or have known deep loss, grief and neglect, trying to navigate the different rhythms forced upon them by the coronavirus pandemic can be challenging, especially if they sense their parents’ fears. Kevin and Lynette Ezell draw upon their own experiences to provide insight on how to best manage those difficulties in a fostering or adoptive home.
Resources: Visit LifeWay to order the following books: “God Will Carry You Through” and “Just in Case You Ever Wonder” by Max Lucado and “What Am I Feeling?” by Dr. Josh Straub.
Find more resources for foster care and adoption by visiting sendrelief.org/foster-care-adoption/.
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Adopting and Fostering Home Podcast. Whether your family has been on this journey for years or you’re just getting started, we’re here to support and encourage you along the way. And now your hosts, Lynette Ezell and Tera Melber.
Lynette Ezell: Hey guys, welcome back to the podcast. We’re in a really unconventional time right now in our nation. No one saw kids being kept home from school, no travel. At our house, no track meets. And so we really want to encourage you today. We’re right there with you hunkering down with our families; and we just want it to be an encouragement to you today during this unprecedented time. I’ve asked a special friend, and my best friend, to join me today, and we’re going to just kind of maybe give you some pointers to walking through this COVID-19 and kind of keeping calm in your home in the midst of all of this. Kev, thanks for being with us.
Kevin Ezell: No, absolutely. It’s an honor to be on here and just hopefully to help people walk through such a difficult and crisis time.
Lynette: Yeah, it really is. Kids from trauma, kids from hard places, kids who have known deep loss and grief and neglect, this can be hard for them to navigate this because they sense our fears. And so let’s just start with some things you and I came up with that we’re doing at our house to maybe help families navigate this, especially kids from foster care, from the system, the kids who’ve come from orphanages or just from hard places.
Kevin: Sure, sure. I think one of the most important things is you want to be honest. But based on their age, there’s an amount of that that would be appropriate.
Lynette: Yeah. Tune out some of the noise.
Kevin: Exactly. Another thing is you discuss challenges together as a couple, sometimes it’s just best to do that in private and not make those family conversations. But let it be the appropriate amount depending on the age.
Lynette: Yeah. And just focus on, “Look, we’ve gone through challenges as a family before and so we’re going to walk through this together as well.” The term there is “together.” And I just think this is a perfect time to model forever for kids.
Kevin: We want them to understand, “Look, we’re in this together. We will make it through, but we’re going to do it together.”
Lynette: That’s right. “No matter what happens, what may happen, who among us may fall ill, we’re family and we’re going to stay together for one another.” And this is especially important, like I said earlier, for children who have deep loss, trauma; and everyone’s had loss in their life. Both of us have buried our dads. We miss their leadership during a time like this. And our kids had to navigate that, but we always stay together. It’s forever. And I know it’s hard for some kids to kind of grasp that concept of forever, but you and I, in front of our kids and our grandkids, we have to model that.
Kevin: Right. Exactly, and I think it’s a great time to try to connect with people who are away.
Lynette: Yeah, yeah.
Kevin: So even through FaceTime. Instead of phone call, FaceTime helps just to see a grandmother, a great-grandmother or grandkids, and to have a sense of normalcy but use technology to help.
Lynette: Yeah, yeah. Everyone in the family matters, even though our boys are way on the west coast and our girls all live close. The other day I connected with the grandkids. And even though they’re just an hour from us, we can’t be with them right now and we just ate yogurt together.
Kevin: Right. Exactly.
Lynette: We just did some silly things. And I know for our girls that are still at home, it’s good for them to see their brothers on FaceTime. And it makes them feel more connected. It makes them feel more at peace.
Kevin: Well, and just like Sunday and everyone’s doing worship online, it’s important to continue to worship together. And I tell you, the hard part for me is the singing part. I like the pastor. But the music part online, it’s kind of exposed, we who mumble our way through the music service.
Lynette: That would be both of us, yeah.
Kevin: But I think you just agree together that we love the Lord and-
Lynette: We trust you Lord.
Kevin:… we trust you Lord, but keep that worship going; and you can make it fun. Even in those times as we come around the iPad or the computer to do it with our church, it’s just real important to stay engaged, and thank goodness we have technology where we can stay engaged. You can visually see each other, and you have to utilize that really on a daily basis. If you’re a once a week call or to your mom, you need to maybe start being a two or three-weeker.
Lynette: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, and it really does. Seeing our girls at home, it just makes them feel more peaceful knowing everyone is okay and they can see them.
Lynette: Yeah. So kids are out of school, most parents aren’t going to jobs and schedules have been… I mean, your schedule’s been greatly disrupted because you travel a lot, you’re home, and we get to create a new routine around that.
Kevin: No, exactly. And for many of us because of going through a trial like this for a month or two months, that’s really going to affect the next year. What I’ve encouraged people to do, you want to think immediate, the impact right now. But even looking down the road six months, there’s going to be a new normal out of this and already help your kids think that’s a good thing. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a horrible thing we’re going through. Is it a bad thing that families are together for a prolonged period of time? Not really.
Lynette: No, no.
Kevin: They just need to learn to do it again.
Lynette: Yeah, and for kids from hard places, it’s one of the best things you can do is hunker down and just keep connecting as a family.
Kevin: Yeah. I mean the regularity of just, “We’re having dinner together again tonight?”
Kevin: “And you’re here. Aren’t you going somewhere?”
Lynette: Yes. Repetition and consistency will really help create a feeling of safety in their lives, just that repetition. And this COVID-19 has given us the opportunity to do that.
Kevin: Right. And find ways to come alongside them and to give them value during this time is very important.
Lynette: Yeah, yeah. Ways to give them value. Find things to praise them about because everybody’s kind of helping out I’ve noticed.
Kevin: It’s like yesterday, you had a whole set of, I say chores, a whole set of to-do lists for everybody and we all jumped in. Some were by themselves and some we grouped and knocked it out. You can get quite a bit done. Every garage in America should be organized when this thing’s over.
Lynette: And everybody can do their part. We all bring unique gifts to the home. And if yours is organized, and one of ours is, that’s great. But we all need one another for support and encouragement right now.
So important again for kids who’ve been shuffled or neglected, and they just need that value to calm their fears. “When you were helping dad outside yesterday, you did such a great job,” and you can just see their self-esteem and their face just light up when you say this kind of thing.
Kevin: I never thought I’d see a sophomore girl be so excited about a power washer.
Lynette: She loved it.
Kevin: She loved it. So if you live near Alpharetta or Cumming, Georgia and need some power washing done, just feel free to give us a call.
Lynette: We got the gal for you.
Kevin: She’ll stay six feet away. I promise.
Lynette: Yeah. But she loved the power wash. She kept saying this is so satisfying going from something that you thought we were going to throw it away; and when you power wash it, it looked brand new.
Kevin: Just trying to keep her to do it outdoors, not indoors.
Lynette: Exactly. And you know another thing that I’m real big on, and I know you are too, that we enjoy doing together is just to serve others too.
Kevin: Right. Well, just the other day, I mean we have neighbors in our neighborhood, senior adults, and you were leaving them boxes of tea and different things on their porch so they appreciate or I got to change out a filter.
Lynette: Yeah, you changed out the neighbor’s air filter.
Kevin: She was so impressed. But I told her, “Don’t be, there’s an arrow on the thing. It tells you exactly how to do it.”
Lynette: But she’s going through a tough time right now, on top of, and she’s just gone through a huge health challenge and she wasn’t able to do that. We still have families taking foster placements, and so they can’t really get out and get all that they need. That’s a reimbursement system. And so, to be able to take them a bag of brand new clothing and a meal.
Kevin: Exactly. I would just encourage every person listening, do not underestimate your influence. I mean, you can have an influence on doing just the basic things. Don’t underestimate those because not everyone’s able to do those basic things at this particular time. It never more than before should you have your eyes open, your ears open to listen and look for needs that you can meet. There are so many needs that you can meet in very small ways. It doesn’t cost you anything but a little time and a little care.
Lynette: Yeah. And being able to do that together with your kids too, to be honest with them, share age-appropriate information, to model “forever” together, to continue to connect with family members who are away, that’s just really helped our family a lot. Continue worshiping together. It’s a great time to maybe worship with other churches you don’t usually get to attend, or you’d like to hear this person speak, do that together. Get out those watercolors. Kids are out of school, so do things like that together. Don’t make it all about school, and then work alongside your children. Give them value and just model for them that we are consistent. We are going to keep moving forward in life. We are a family forever together, and we have faced challenges before, and we will face this one together.
Kevin: Exactly. This should encourage you. Take it one day at a time. It’s going to be okay. We’re going to make it through this and just encourage your kids, and yourself. There is absolutely no need to panic here. We’re going to make it through this.
Lynette: That’s right.
Kevin: But we just have to do it day by day.
Lynette: Yeah. It’s kind of like the Joshua statement. I can just see Joshua stopping in the midst of his family and saying, “Look, we’re going to keep serving the Lord. No matter what happens in this world, I’m putting down a stake and we’re going to keep serving the Lord.” And so for children who are never allowed—families, just a reminder choices or how to say in their decisions, doing these things together, continuing to serve together, to pray together, to do things together as a family, this will build their confidence and it’ll help them see that they are important to the lives of others.
Let them plan some things to do as a family. Let them bring their ideas to the table, but also let them see you praying over this. Praying for our leaders, praying for those who have gotten sick, praying for others that we want them to stay well. When we bring that to the table together as a family, it just really gives them deep, deep value.
Sometimes at night if they’re worrying about things, we even have one child who put this up in their room, but it was Psalm 4:8 and it says, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, oh Lord, you make me dwell in safety.” It was at that point, she’s married now, but one of ours when she realized the Lord never sleeps, he’s always working, he never fails. The Lord is our refuge. He’s our rock. When she began to grasp that truth, we begin to see her little soul settle down. She just had some decided fears.
And in the midst of that, she was able to settle down. This can be a time with COVID-19 that kids can decide they’re afraid of some things and it’s a wonderful time for parents to just model trust before them.
Kevin: Right. Now is the time to lead. If you’re a father, now is the time to lead. A mom, now’s the time. Now is the time to lead your kids in a way that they will remember this forever. It’s one of those markers of when we all went through this, you’re teaching them on how to lead their kids through crisis and challenges down the road.
Lynette: Yeah, that’s a good point.
Kevin: This is a very critical time, but perhaps one of the very best teaching opportunities you will ever have. Many times people say, don’t let a crisis go to waste. And what they simply mean is, it’s a great time to learn how to do things differently and more effectively and efficiently, and that also can go for parenting.
Lynette: Yeah, absolutely. And so we’ll just add some extra resources in the show notes, but just know that we are in this time with you together, and we appreciate you listening. We appreciate you subscribing to the podcast. And just remember, that those who know your name, Lord, put their trust in you because you never have forsaken those who seek you. Thanks for joining us today.
Speaker 1: You have been listening to the Adopting and Fostering Home, a resource of the North American Mission Board. For more information about today’s podcast and other relevant resources, visit sendrelief.org.